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Tristam Burges

United States representative , politician

Tristam Burges was a U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, and great-great-uncle of Theodore Francis Green.


Burges was born in Rochester, Massachusetts February 26, 1770 to John and Abigail Burges. Upon the death of his father he abandoned the study of medicine.


Burges attended the common schools. He studied medicine at a school in Wrentham. He was graduated from Rhode Island College (now Brown University), Providence, Rhode Island, valedictorian of the class of 1796.

He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1799 and commenced practice in Providence, Rhode Island.


Burges' father was a cooper and farmer, and a Revolutionary War veteran. Welcome Arnold, and had several children. He was appointed chief justice of the supreme court of Rhode Island in May 1815, serving for just one year.

In 1815 Burges was named as professor of oratory and belles letters at Brown University. He taught lectures in rhetoric and oratory. He was dismissed from this position in 1830.

Burges was elected to the US Congress in 1825 as a Federalist and served for ten years. He was known for his witty repartee with Anti-New England Virginian John Randolph. He favored a protective trade tariff, and he lost re-electing because he refused to accept a tariff compromise proposed by Henry Clay.

Burges was elected as an Adams candidate to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses and elected as an Anti-Jacksonian to the Twenty-first through the Twenty-third Congresses (March 4, 1825 – March 3, 1835). He served as chairman of the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions (Nineteenth Congress), Committee on Military Pensions (Nineteenth and Twentieth Congresses), Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Twenty-first Congress), Committee on Invalid Pensions (Twenty-second and Twenty-third Congresses). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection.

After an unsuccessful run for Rhode Island Governor as a Whig party candidate in 1836, he resumed the practice of law in East Providence, Rhode Island. He died on his estate, "Watchemoket Farm" (now a part of East Providence, Rhode Island), October 13, 1853, and was interred in North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island.


He served as member of the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1811 and a prominent member of the Federalist Party.